Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 9 June 18:
1. 2 Kings 5:3 — “She said to her mistress, ‘Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.’” The captive girl showed compassion for her ruthless captor and sought healing for him. How do you treat those who have mistreated you?
2. 2 Kings 5:10-12 — “And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, ‘Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.’ But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, ‘Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?’ So he turned and went away in a rage.” Naaman could not humble himself in order to accept God’s healing on God’s terms. He expected God’s prophet to honor him and treat him special. Elisha intentionally did not come out to see Naaman, sending a messenger instead. All Naaman had to do was accept the free gift of healing from God, but he considered it beneath him. The message couldn’t have been more clear or simple — ‘Wash, and be clean’. God demands humility. Simple pride stands between many and Jesus.
3. 2 Kings 5:13, 14 — “But his servants came near and said to him, ‘My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?’ So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”
– Again, God offers the free gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus, but many simply refuse to accept it — it is just too simplistic for them, not sophisticated enough. How many people out of pride will refuse the simplicity of the Gospel – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16)…. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).”
– “…‘My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it?” Many Christians make God’s word far too complicated. God’s commands are not hard to understand, and obedience to what you do understand positions you understand the deeper aspects of God’s word. It is important to diligently study God’s word, but it is through daily application where understanding occurs and where we experience God. Some use Bible study as a form of procrastination, like constantly searching for the perfect workout but never actually exercising. Some muddy the waters of God’s word in an effort to make it say what it really doesn’t say so that they can get out of doing the simple thing is says. They turn specific commands into “general principles” or philosophical concepts. Or they over litigate God’s word to defend their compromised position – “Who is my neighbor?” Those who read and simply obey, day by day, are blessed.
— Ezekiel 34:17-19 — As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats. Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?
— Ecclesiastes 12:11-13 — The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
4. 2 Kings 5:18 — “‘In this matter may the LORD pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon your servant in this matter.’ He said to him, ‘Go in peace.’” Naaman the Syrian was the only Leper cured by Elisha (Luke 4:27), not even any Jews were healed. Naaman could have been a powerful witness in Syria, but because he continued to comprise with the wicked practices of his culture for the sake of maintaining his position, the Bible records no other significant events in the life of Naaman — he was healed and then nothing. He is never mentioned again in the Old Testament. What might have happened in Syria if Naaman had refused to bow down like Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel? Perhaps his impact would have transformed Syria like Daniel’s impact transformed Babylon. How has compromise hindered our impact on the world around us? The compromising Christian may be saved, but ineffective or irrelevant at a time and place when God seeks faithful witnesses.
5. 2 Kings 5:18, 19 — “’In this matter may the Lord pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.’ He said to him, ‘Go in peace.’” Elisha’s ‘Go in peace’ was not an endorsement but rather a dismissal. Having received healing and life, Naaman apparently did not, in turn, commit his life to faithfully serving God without compromise. Elisha did not condemn Naaman, but neither did he commend him or commission him — Elisha was done with him. Christians often see salvation as having eternal life, but they fail to recognize that eternal life starts now (see John 17) and that we are not just saved for eternity, we are saved to shape history — to serve God now, on earth, to be priests, ambassadors, salt and light, and to bring glory to God on earth. Like so many others, Naaman apparently viewed his gift of life as something intended for him rather than for God’s glory. As with Paul, Grace should compel us to live our lives for Christ alone, to know Him more and more each day and to make Him known more and more each day. Don’t render yourself irrelevant through compromise and lack of conviction. Serve God wholeheartedly.
6. 2 Kings 5:20 — “As the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” Elisha’s servant swore an oath in God’s name that he would commit a sin out of self-interest. People often pursue selfish ambitions in the name of God. God is not here for us, we are here for Him. His aim is not to bring us glory but that we would glorify Him. It is not about us. The fact that the prophet’s servant who witnessed first-hand the power of God could not resist the temptation of selfishness and self-justification should drive us to our knees in prayer.
7. 2 Kings 5:26 — “Was it a time to accept money…?” Turning to the world for earthly riches rather than remaining faithful to the Lord is a curse. How much of your life is about pursuit of something other than Jesus?
8. 2 Kings 6:17 — “Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.’ So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” We cannot see the reality around us that only God can reveal. It is impossible for us to make sense out of the world strictly from our own perceptions. We must be guided by the Spirit. Only through the Spirit can you see the reality of the situation around you which is far different than what the eyes can see. The invisible is no less real than the visible, in fact it is more real; but people tend to believe only what they see and misinterpret what is actually happening. God’s word provides us spiritual guidelines to keep us aligned with the invisible realities of God’s will. It takes faith to follow God’s word when you can’t see the whole picture. God says, “Trust and obey.”
9. 2 Kings 6:22 — “Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.” Elisha taught the king of Israel to show mercy towards his enemies.
10. 2 Kings 6:23 — “So he prepared for them a great feast, and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the Syrians did not come again on raids into the land of Israel.” Hospitality, mercy, and grace had a greater impact on Syria than hostility would have.
11. Proverbs 9:1, 2 — The product of wisdom is evident to anyone who cares to see.
12. Proverbs 9:17 — “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” The simple seek personal gain at the expense of others. The simple also seek something for nothing and shortcuts to accomplishment rather than diligent hard work. Everyone is looking for “secrets” to success rather than self-discipline. Successful people are willing to do each day what unsuccessful people aren’t.
13. Proverbs 9:10 — “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Wisdom that is not founded on God, the Creator of Wisdom, is no wisdom at all.
14. Proverbs 9:13, 14 — “The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house; she takes a seat on the highest places of the town,” Foolish people are loud and proud, bold and audacious.
15. Psalm 67 — God blesses us primarily to reveal Himself to a watching world, not simply so we can have what we want for our own comfort and security.
16. Psalm 67:2, 3 — “…that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!” Your goal should be that people see God’s power in your life and praise God, not you.
17. Psalm 67:7 — “God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!” Our goal is that our lives would be used by God to turn the whole world to Jesus Christ. Don’t let anything about you distract people from Jesus. It is not about you. It is all about Jesus.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 9 June: Today, go out of your way to show sincere kindness to those who treat you poorly. (2 Kings 5:3; 2 Kings 6:22) Regardless your circumstances, walk in contentment, peace, and joy, trusting God with everything. Transmit Grace and Peace to everyone you encounter. (2 Kings 14:10, Proverbs 10:22, Proverbs 10:28, Galatians 1:3, 4) In all that you say and do today, point to Jesus. (Psalm 67)